Feminist Interpretations of Thomas Hobbes

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Images of and references to women are so rare in the vast corpus of his Images of and references to women are so rare in the vast corpus of his published work that there seems to be no woman question for Hans-Georg Gadamer.


Feminist Interpretations of Jane Addams. Beginning in the s, feminist scholars rediscovered Feminist Interpretations of Ludwig Wittgenstein. The original essays in this volume, while written from diverse perspectives, share the common aim The original essays in this volume, while written from diverse perspectives, share the common aim of building a constructive dialogue between two currents in philosophy that seem not readily allied: Wittgenstein, who urges us to bring our words back home Feminist Interpretations of Martin Heidegger.

Martin Heidegger's idea that Dasein human existence is ultimately gender neutral, as well as several Martin Heidegger's idea that Dasein human existence is ultimately gender neutral, as well as several other major aspects of his thought, raises significant questions for feminist philosophers.

The fourteen essays included in this volume clearly illustrate the ways in which Feminist Interpretations of Mary Astell. Often referred to as a proto-feminist, early modern English philosopher and rhetorician Mary Astell was Often referred to as a proto-feminist, early modern English philosopher and rhetorician Mary Astell was a pious supporter of monarchy who wrote about gender equality at a time when society tightly constrained female agency.

This diverse collection of essays situates Feminist Interpretations of Niccol? Penn State University Press. After Hobbes, John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau are the best known proponents of this enormously influential theory, which has been one of the most dominant theories within moral and political theory throughout the history of the modern West.

More recently, philosophers from different perspectives have offered new criticisms of social contract theory. In particular, feminists and race-conscious philosophers have argued that social contract theory is at least an incomplete picture of our moral and political lives, and may in fact camouflage some of the ways in which the contract is itself parasitical upon the subjugations of classes of persons. In the early Platonic dialogue, Crito , Socrates makes a compelling argument as to why he must stay in prison and accept the death penalty, rather than escape and go into exile in another Greek city.

He personifies the Laws of Athens, and, speaking in their voice, explains that he has acquired an overwhelming obligation to obey the Laws because they have made his entire way of life, and even the fact of his very existence, possible. They made it possible for his mother and father to marry, and therefore to have legitimate children, including himself.

Nancy J. Hirschmann & Joanne Wright (eds.), Feminist Interpretations of Thomas Hobbes - PhilPapers

Having been born, the city of Athens, through its laws, then required that his father care for and educate him. Socrates' life and the way in which that life has flourished in Athens are each dependent upon the Laws. Importantly, however, this relationship between citizens and the Laws of the city are not coerced. Citizens, once they have grown up, and have seen how the city conducts itself, can choose whether to leave, taking their property with them, or stay.

Staying implies an agreement to abide by the Laws and accept the punishments that they mete out. And, having made an agreement that is itself just, Socrates asserts that he must keep to this agreement that he has made and obey the Laws, in this case, by staying and accepting the death penalty. Importantly, the contract described by Socrates is an implicit one: it is implied by his choice to stay in Athens, even though he is free to leave. In Plato's most well-known dialogue, Republic , social contract theory is represented again, although this time less favorably.

In Book II, Glaucon offers a candidate for an answer to the question "what is justice? What men would most want is to be able to commit injustices against others without the fear of reprisal, and what they most want to avoid is being treated unjustly by others without being able to do injustice in return.

Justice then, he says, is the conventional result of the laws and covenants that men make in order to avoid these extremes. Being unable to commit injustice with impunity as those who wear the ring of Gyges would , and fearing becoming victims themselves, men decide that it is in their interests to submit themselves to the convention of justice. Socrates rejects this view, and most of the rest of the dialogue centers on showing that justice is worth having for its own sake, and that the just man is the happy man.

These views, in the Crito and the Republic , might seem at first glance inconsistent: in the former dialogue Socrates uses a social contract type of argument to show why it is just for him to remain in prison, whereas in the latter he rejects social contract as the source of justice. These two views are, however, reconcilable. From Socrates' point of view, a just man is one who will, among other things, recognize his obligation to the state by obeying its laws.

The state is the morally and politically most fundamental entity, and as such deserves our highest allegiance and deepest respect. Just men know this and act accordingly. Justice, however, is more than simply obeying laws in exchange for others obeying them as well. Justice is the state of a well-regulated soul, and so the just man will also necessarily be the happy man.

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So, justice is more than the simple reciprocal obedience to law, as Glaucon suggests, but it does nonetheless include obedience to the state and the laws that sustain it. So in the end, although Plato is perhaps the first philosopher to offer a representation of the argument at the heart of social contract theory, Socrates ultimately rejects the idea that social contract is the original source of justice.

Thomas Hobbes , , lived during the most crucial period of early modern England's history: the English Civil War, waged from To describe this conflict in the most general of terms, it was a clash between the King and his supporters, the Monarchists, who preferred the traditional authority of a monarch, and the Parliamentarians, most notably led by Oliver Cromwell, who demanded more power for the quasi-democratic institution of Parliament. Hobbes represents a compromise between these two factions. On the one hand he rejects the theory of the Divine Right of Kings, which is most eloquently expressed by Robert Filmer in his Patriarcha or the Natural Power of Kings , although it would be left to John Locke to refute Filmer directly.

According to this view, then, political obligation is subsumed under religious obligation. On the other hand, Hobbes also rejects the early democratic view, taken up by the Parliamentarians, that power ought to be shared between Parliament and the King. In rejecting both these views, Hobbes occupies the ground of one who is both radical and conservative. He argues, radically for his times, that political authority and obligation are based on the individual self-interests of members of society who are understood to be equal to one another, with no single individual invested with any essential authority to rule over the rest, while at the same time maintaining the conservative position that the monarch, which he called the Sovereign, must be ceded absolute authority if society is to survive.

Hobbes' political theory is best understood if taken in two parts: his theory of human motivation, Psychological Egoism , and his theory of the social contract, founded on the hypothetical State of Nature. Hobbes has, first and foremost, a particular theory of human nature, which gives rise to a particular view of morality and politics, as developed in his philosophical masterpiece, Leviathan , published in The Scientific Revolution, with its important new discoveries that the universe could be both described and predicted in accordance with universal laws of nature, greatly influenced Hobbes.

He sought to provide a theory of human nature that would parallel the discoveries being made in the sciences of the inanimate universe. His psychological theory is therefore informed by mechanism, the general view that everything in the universe is produced by nothing other than matter in motion.

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According to Hobbes, this extends to human behavior. Human macro-behavior can be aptly described as the effect of certain kinds of micro-behavior, even though some of this latter behavior is invisible to us. So, such behaviors as walking, talking, and the like are themselves produced by other actions inside of us. And these other actions are themselves caused by the interaction of our bodies with other bodies, human or otherwise, which create in us certain chains of causes and effects, and which eventually give rise to the human behavior that we can plainly observe.

We, including all of our actions and choices, are then, according to this view, as explainable in terms of universal laws of nature as are the motions of heavenly bodies. The gradual disintegration of memory, for example, can be explained by inertia. In Hobbes' view, this mechanistic quality of human psychology implies the subjective nature of normative claims. Moral terms do not, therefore, describe some objective state of affairs, but are rather reflections of individual tastes and preferences.

In addition to Subjectivism, Hobbes also infers from his mechanistic theory of human nature that humans are necessarily and exclusively self-interested. All men pursue only what they perceive to be in their own individually considered best interests - they respond mechanistically by being drawn to that which they desire and repelled by that to which they are averse. This is a universal claim: it is meant to cover all human actions under all circumstances — in society or out of it, with regard to strangers and friends alike, with regard to small ends and the most generalized of human desires, such as the desire for power and status.

Everything we do is motivated solely by the desire to better our own situations, and satisfy as many of our own, individually considered desires as possible. We are infinitely appetitive and only genuinely concerned with our own selves. According to Hobbes, even the reason that adults care for small children can be explicated in terms of the adults' own self-interest he claims that in saving an infant by caring for it, we become the recipient of a strong sense of obligation in one who has been helped to survive rather than allowed to die.

mixseller.com/zithromax-antibiotic-cheap-online-shipping-to-deutsch.php In addition to being exclusively self-interested, Hobbes also argues that human beings are reasonable. They have in them the rational capacity to pursue their desires as efficiently and maximally as possible. Their reason does not, given the subjective nature of value, evaluate their given ends, rather it merely acts as "Scouts, and Spies, to range abroad, and find the way to the things Desired" Rationality is purely instrumental.

It can add and subtract, and compare sums one to another, and thereby endows us with the capacity to formulate the best means to whatever ends we might happen to have. From these premises of human nature, Hobbes goes on to construct a provocative and compelling argument for why we ought to be willing to submit ourselves to political authority.

He does this by imagining persons in a situation prior to the establishment of society, the State of Nature. According to Hobbes, the justification for political obligation is this: given that men are naturally self-interested, yet they are rational, they will choose to submit to the authority of a Sovereign in order to be able to live in a civil society, which is conducive to their own interests.

Hobbes argues for this by imagining men in their natural state, or in other words, the State of Nature. In the State of Nature, which is purely hypothetical according to Hobbes, men are naturally and exclusively self-interested, they are more or less equal to one another, even the strongest man can be killed in his sleep , there are limited resources, and yet there is no power able to force men to cooperate.

Given these conditions in the State of Nature, Hobbes concludes that the State of Nature would be unbearably brutal. In the State of Nature, every person is always in fear of losing his life to another. They have no capacity to ensure the long-term satisfaction of their needs or desires. No long-term or complex cooperation is possible because the State of Nature can be aptly described as a state of utter distrust. Given Hobbes' reasonable assumption that most people want first and foremost to avoid their own deaths, he concludes that the State of Nature is the worst possible situation in which men can find themselves.

It is the state of perpetual and unavoidable war. The situation is not, however, hopeless. Because men are reasonable, they can see their way out of such a state by recognizing the laws of nature, which show them the means by which to escape the State of Nature and create a civil society. The first and most important law of nature commands that each man be willing to pursue peace when others are willing to do the same, all the while retaining the right to continue to pursue war when others do not pursue peace.

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Being reasonable, and recognizing the rationality of this basic precept of reason, men can be expected to construct a Social Contract that will afford them a life other than that available to them in the State of Nature. This contract is constituted by two distinguishable contracts. First, they must agree to establish society by collectively and reciprocally renouncing the rights they had against one another in the State of Nature. Second, they must imbue some one person or assembly of persons with the authority and power to enforce the initial contract.

In other words, to ensure their escape from the State of Nature, they must both agree to live together under common laws, and create an enforcement mechanism for the social contract and the laws that constitute it. Since the sovereign is invested with the authority and power to mete out punishments for breaches of the contract which are worse than not being able to act as one pleases, men have good, albeit self-interested, reason to adjust themselves to the artifice of morality in general, and justice in particular. Society becomes possible because, whereas in the State of Nature there was no power able to "overawe them all", now there is an artificially and conventionally superior and more powerful person who can force men to cooperate.

While living under the authority of a Sovereign can be harsh Hobbes argues that because men's passions can be expected to overwhelm their reason, the Sovereign must have absolute authority in order for the contract to be successful it is at least better than living in the State of Nature. And, no matter how much we may object to how poorly a Sovereign manages the affairs of the state and regulates our own lives, we are never justified in resisting his power because it is the only thing which stands between us and what we most want to avoid, the State of Nature.

Prior to the establishment of the basic social contract, according to which men agree to live together and the contract to embody a Sovereign with absolute authority, nothing is immoral or unjust - anything goes. After these contracts are established, however, then society becomes possible, and people can be expected to keep their promises, cooperate with one another, and so on. The Social Contract is the most fundamental source of all that is good and that which we depend upon to live well.

Our choice is either to abide by the terms of the contract, or return to the State of Nature, which Hobbes argues no reasonable person could possibly prefer. Given his rather severe view of human nature, Hobbes nonetheless manages to create an argument that makes civil society, along with all its advantages, possible. Within the context of the political events of his England, he also managed to argue for a continuation of the traditional form of authority that his society had long since enjoyed, while nonetheless placing it on what he saw as a far more acceptable foundation.

For Hobbes, the necessity of an absolute authority, in the form of a Sovereign, followed from the utter brutality of the State of Nature. The State of Nature was completely intolerable, and so rational men would be willing to submit themselves even to absolute authority in order to escape it. For John Locke , , the State of Nature is a very different type of place, and so his argument concerning the social contract and the nature of men's relationship to authority are consequently quite different.

Locke's most important and influential political writings are contained in his Two Treatises on Government. According to Locke, the State of Nature, the natural condition of mankind, is a state of perfect and complete liberty to conduct one's life as one best sees fit, free from the interference of others. The State of Nature, although a state wherein there is no civil authority or government to punish people for transgressions against laws, is not a state without morality.

The State of Nature is pre-political, but it is not pre-moral. Persons are assumed to be equal to one another in such a state, and therefore equally capable of discovering and being bound by the Law of Nature. Because we all belong equally to God, and because we cannot take away that which is rightfully His, we are prohibited from harming one another. So, the State of Nature is a state of liberty where persons are free to pursue their own interests and plans, free from interference, and, because of the Law of Nature and the restrictions that it imposes upon persons, it is relatively peaceful.

The State of Nature therefore, is not the same as the state of war, as it is according to Hobbes. It can, however devolve into a state of war, in particular, a state of war over property disputes. Whereas the State of Nature is the state of liberty where persons recognize the Law of Nature and therefore do not harm one another, the state of war begins between two or more men once one man declares war on another, by stealing from him, or by trying to make him his slave. Since in the State of Nature there is no civil power to whom men can appeal, and since the Law of Nature allows them to defend their own lives, they may then kill those who would bring force against them.

Since the State of Nature lacks civil authority, once war begins it is likely to continue. And this is one of the strongest reasons that men have to abandon the State of Nature by contracting together to form civil government. Property plays an essential role in Locke's argument for civil government and the contract that establishes it. According to Locke, private property is created when a person mixes his labor with the raw materials of nature.

So, for example, when one tills a piece of land in nature, and makes it into a piece of farmland, which produces food, then one has a claim to own that piece of land and the food produced upon it. Given the implications of the Law of Nature, there are limits as to how much property one can own: one is not allowed to take more from nature than one can use, thereby leaving others without enough for themselves. Because nature is given to all of mankind by God for its common subsistence, one cannot take more than his own fair share.

According to Locke, the State of Nature is not a condition of individuals, as it is for Hobbes. Rather, it is populated by mothers and fathers with their children, or families - what he calls "conjugal society" par. These societies are based on the voluntary agreements to care for children together, and they are moral but not political. Political society comes into being when individual men, representing their families, come together in the State of Nature and agree to each give up the executive power to punish those who transgress the Law of Nature, and hand over that power to the public power of a government.

Having done this, they then become subject to the will of the majority.


One joins such a body, either from its beginnings, or after it has already been established by others, only by explicit consent. Having created a political society and government through their consent, men then gain three things which they lacked in the State of Nature: laws, judges to adjudicate laws, and the executive power necessary to enforce these laws.

Feminist Interpretations of Thomas Hobbes

Each man therefore gives over the power to protect himself and punish transgressors of the Law of Nature to the government that he has created through the compact. Given that the end of "men's uniting into common-wealths" par. When the executive power of a government devolves into tyranny, such as by dissolving the legislature and therefore denying the people the ability to make laws for their own preservation, then the resulting tyrant puts himself into a State of Nature, and specifically into a state of war with the people, and they then have the same right to self-defense as they had before making a compact to establish society in the first place.

The social compact can be dissolved and the process to create political society begun anew. Because Locke did not envision the State of Nature as grimly as did Hobbes, he can imagine conditions under which one would be better off rejecting a particular civil government and returning to the State of Nature, with the aim of constructing a better civil government in its place. Jean-Jacques Rousseau , , lived and wrote during what was arguably the headiest period in the intellectual history of modern France--the Enlightenment.

He was one of the bright lights of that intellectual movement, contributing articles to the Encyclopdie of Diderot, and participating in the salons in Paris, where the great intellectual questions of his day were pursued. Rousseau has two distinct social contract theories. The first is found in his essay, Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality Among Men , commonly referred to as the Second Discourse, and is an account of the moral and political evolution of human beings over time, from a State of Nature to modern society.

The result is a progress repo… Read more Feminist scholars have been remaking the landscape in political theory, and in this important book some of the most important feminist political theorists provide reconstructions of those concepts most central to the tradition of political philosophy. The result is a progress report on the continuing feminist project to re-envision traditional political theory.

As such, it constitutes essential reading not only for feminist thinkers but also for traditional philosophers and political theorists, who will need to come to terms with these contemporary critiques and re-readings. In Gender, Class, and Freedom in Modern Political Theory, Nancy Hirschmann demonstrates not merely that modern theories of freedom are susceptible to gender and class analysis but that they must be analyzed in terms of gender and class in order to be understood at all.

Through rigorous close readings of major and minor works of Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Kant, and Mill, Hirschmann establishes and examines the gender and class foundations of the modern understanding of freedom. Building on a social… Read more In Gender, Class, and Freedom in Modern Political Theory, Nancy Hirschmann demonstrates not merely that modern theories of freedom are susceptible to gender and class analysis but that they must be analyzed in terms of gender and class in order to be understood at all.

Building on a social constructivist model of freedom that she developed in her award-winning book The Subject of Liberty: Toward a Feminist Theory of Freedom, she makes in her new book another original and important contribution to political and feminist theory. Despite the prominence of "state of nature" ideas in modern political theory, Hirschmann argues, theories of freedom actually advance a social constructivist understanding of humanity.

By rereading "human nature" in light of this insight, Hirschmann uncovers theories of freedom that are both more historically accurate and more relevant to contemporary politics. Pigeonholing canonical theorists as proponents of either "positive" or "negative" liberty is historically inaccurate, she demonstrates, because theorists deploy both conceptions of freedom simultaneously throughout their work. Books in Review with Linda Zerilli. Political Theory Social and Political Philosophy. This essay takes up an apparently minor idea of Susan Moller Okin's Justice, Gender, and the Family—that employers should split the paycheck of wage-earning husbands between employees and their stay-at-home spouses—and suggests that it actually threatens to undermine Okin's entire argument by perpetuating the most central cause of women's inequality by Okin's own account: the sexual division of labor.

Recognizing the vital contributions that Okin's seminal work made and the impact that it had on… Read more This essay takes up an apparently minor idea of Susan Moller Okin's Justice, Gender, and the Family—that employers should split the paycheck of wage-earning husbands between employees and their stay-at-home spouses—and suggests that it actually threatens to undermine Okin's entire argument by perpetuating the most central cause of women's inequality by Okin's own account: the sexual division of labor. Recognizing the vital contributions that Okin's seminal work made and the impact that it had on the field of feminist philosophy and political theory, the essay explores the ethical, political, and philosophical problems with this solution to the dire problems of gender inequality and injustice that Okin correctly identifies.

The essay suggests that her commitment to liberalism may have resulted in a commitment to an inadequate vision of how to solve the problems of gender inequality, and offers other possibilities that Okin could have pursued instead that sustain her strong commitment to liberalism.

Feminist Political Philosophy. Feminism In George Klosko ed. Feminist Approaches to Philosophy. Mill, however, is ambiguous about the productive status of domestic labor, and is thereby representative of a crucial failure in political economic thought, as well as in egalitarian liberal thought on gender.